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Detained US hikers in Iran: Help bring them home

Grass-roots efforts helped save the journalists in North Korea. It can help save the three American hikers detained in Iran.

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You may have awakened this morning to the news of a British man, Akmal Shaikh, who was executed for drug trafficking in China despite clemency sought by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

And you might have heard about another man, Robert Park, a Korean American from Arizona, fighting for human rights and detained in North Korea.

While these two situations are remarkably different from the story of three American hikers detained in Iran this summer, they do share one thing in common: Detained thousands of miles from home all needed grass-roots support at home.

At 1:30 in the morning on Aug.1, I was watching TV when I saw the breaking news about three hikers detained by the Iranians. I overheard the commentator announcing the hiker’s names. One of them was Josh Fattal.

I knew that there were probably many Josh Fattals. And I did not really believe it could be my friend from the eighth grade. But sure enough, when I read his Facebook page, there were his old status updates about an upcoming trip to find his roots in Iraq.

Over the next day or two, the story unfolded at the top of every hour on leading media outlets, but within a couple days the news was overtaken.

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